The snow and frigid weather of this year’s harsh winter was a hassle for Americans across the country. But automakers also felt its wrath and are attributing are pointing at Mother Nature for disappointing sales numbers. This February, automakers sold 1.2 million cars, which is roughly the same as 2013, but lower than expected.
“I don’t like to make excuses, but the awful weather we saw across the country really hurt traffic to our dealerships,” said Hyundai vice president of sales Bob Pradzinski. “They say, ‘If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm,’ so we’re all looking forward to some sunshine in March.”
The big winner last month, hands down, was Subaru. The Japanese manufacturer, which may be the fastest growing major manufacturer in the United States, saw sales increase to 24% to 34,909. Forester sales alone nearly doubled and now account for about a third of the company’s overall business. One of the biggest positives for Subaru is the fact that they are pulling consumers from other companies, since 60% of buyers are new to the brand.
That goes hand-in-hand with the fact that Hyundai, General Motors, and Ford — which saw a 6.1% dip — all saw a decrease in sales.
February was a difficult month overall for the auto industry, there were some brands that grew, and Subaru wasn’t the only company to succeed. Despite Ford’s overall decline, sales of the Lincoln MKZ improved by a massive 222% and Buick, a GM company, saw sales improve 19%. As buyers get ready for summer rides with the top down, the new Chevy Corvette’s also sold well, rising nearly 150%.
Multiple executives indicated that sales picked up near the end of the month, and sales usually improve during March and the rest of the spring as consumers thaw out. This year, March could see a boom as consumers who were looking to buy but didn’t because of the weather head to dealerships. Or, on the flip side, a slow month could mean that the forecast for 2014 auto sales is not good. Either way, it will be interesting to see whether or not February’s trends hold for the rest of the year.